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One more responsibility needs mentioning here, -responsibility to our work. In college, it is said, a man of fair capacity may do well one thing beside his college work, and one thing only. Those of us who are so fortunate as to earn our own living must spend most of our waking hours in work. It follows that we must learn to enjoy work or be unhappy. Now we learn to enjoy work by working; to get interested in any task by doing it with all our strength, This is the first lesson of scholarship: without it we cannot be scholars; and only by courtesy can we be called students. This is the first lesson of happy activity in life. In athletics, in music, in study, in business, we “train” ourselves toward the free exercise of our best powers, toward the joy that comes of mastery. A college oarsman once declared that after a season on the slides he felt able to undertake anything. The intellectual interests of a modern university are bewildering and intense. Among them every intelligent youth can find something worthy of his best labors, something in which his best labors will yield enjoyment beyond price. Rightminded students see the noble opportunity in a college life; and there is no sadder sight than the blindness of those who do not see it until it is lost forever.
While speaking of the intellectual side of college life, I may warn students against becoming specialists too early. Every study has some connection with every other and gets some light from it; but a specialty, seriously undertaken, compels a close study of itself, and may leave little time for other study. An unenlightened specialist is a narrow being; and he who becomes an exclusive specialist before he has been in college two years is usually unenlightened. Even after the choice of a specialty, a student, like a professional man, may wisely reserve one corner of his mind for something totally different from his specialty, and may find in that little corner a relief which makes him a better specialist. It is good for a man buried in a chemical laboratory to take a course in English poetry; it is good for a man steeped in literature to have a mild infusion of chemistry.
The lazy student (if I may return to him now) finds the thread of his study broken by his frequent absences from the lecture room, and finds the lecture hour a long, dull period of hard seats and wandering thoughts. Note-taking would shorten the hour, soften the seats, simplify the subject, and make the whole situation vastly more interesting. No matter if some clever students are willing to sell him notes, and he has no scruples about buying them ; the mere process of note-taking, apart from the education and training in it, gives him something to do in the lecture room, makes it impossible for him not to know something of the subject, and shortens his period of cramming for examination. I believe, further, that a student's happiness is increased by a time-table of regular hours for work in each study. The preparation of theses, and the necessity of using library books when other people are not using them, make it hard now and then to follow a time-table strictly ; but in general such a table is a wonderful saver of time. If a student leaves one lecture room at ten and goes to another at twelve and has no idea what he wishes to do between ten and twelve, he is likely to do nothing. Even if he has determined to study, he loses time in getting under way — in deciding what to study. Work with a time-table tends to promptness in transition; and when the time-table for the day is carried out, the free hours are truly free, a time of clear and well-earned recreation. At school the morning routine is prescribed by the teacher. At college, where it should be prescribed by the student, it frequently breaks down. A man's freedom, as viewed with a boy's eyes, is liberty to waste time : it is the luxury of spending the best morning hours in a billiard room, or loafing in a classmate's "study;" the joy of hearing the bell ring and ring for you, while you sit high above the slaves of toil and puff the smoke of cigarettes with the superb indifference of a small cloud-compelling Zeus. The peculiar evil in cigarettes I leave for scientific men to explain ; I know merely that among college students the excessive cigarette smokers are recognized even by other smokers as representing the feeblest form of intellectual and moral life. At their worst they have no backbone; they cannot tell (and possibly cannot see) the truth; and they loaf. Senator Hoar, in an address to Harvard students, remarked that in his judgment the men who succeed best in life are the men who have made the best